Provincetown Town Meeting Rejects Land Purchase, Keeps Residency Rules for Town Manager

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Provincetown Selectman Erik Yingling says loosening the residency requirement for top town officials will give selectmen some latitude in hiring a town manager.

Provincetown Selectman Erik Yingling says loosening the residency requirement for top town officials will give selectmen some latitude in hiring a town manager.

PROVINCETOWN – Provincetown Town Meeting voters focused on affordable housing Monday night as they debated whether top town officials have to live in town—two will and two won’t—and whether to purchase a three-quarter acre lot to be used for what selectmen are calling “community housing.” Voters failed—twice—to meet the necessary two-thirds majority for the purchase.

Provincetown Selectman Raphael Richter, who is 30 and grew up in town, said the town had changed significantly in the past 10 years as more and more housing units have been sold to second home owners.

“We are in a population loss crisis,” Richter said.

The lot off Winslow Street is located next to the former Veterans of Foreign Wars property that the town purchased last year for affordable housing. Buying the lot next door would have allowed the town more flexibility in developing the VFW lot and would allow for more housing, about 27 units total, town officials said.

Selectman Richter said the units would be “community” housing rather than affordable housing, because they would be priced for people with median incomes, and would be sized for families.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Provincetown Town Meeting voters weigh in on a residency requirement.

Provincetown Town Meeting voters weigh in on a residency requirement.

Money for the purchase would have come from the sale of a property designated for affordable housing plus money already in the town’s coffers. No Proposition 2 1/2 tax override would be needed for the purchase.

But many people cited the cost as one reason to vote against the purchase. Others said the plans looked like a suburban development and lacked Provincetown’s charm. Neighboring property owners said they were not consulted in the plans for the development.

The first vote on the housing lot came after more than an hour of passionate debate. The tally was 178 in favor of the purchase and 132 opposed. But it needed 207 yes votes to pass because of the two-thirds requirement.

Immediately after the vote, the meeting went into a break and within moments 10 citizens had signed a request for reconsideration of the article.

After the break, Chairman of the Provincetown Board of Selectman Thomas Donegan reintroduced the article with a lower price tag, saying the town had the option of buying the property without the house on it that had already been built. That lowered the price from $1.75 million to just over $1 million.

More debate followed and a second vote had fewer town meeting members because, as one resident said, many had left the meeting and gone home for dinner, thinking the matter had been decided.

The second vote, coming at just before 10 p.m., was 135 in favor and 96 opposed, failing to pass by 19 votes.

Earlier in the meeting, voters debated whether the town manager, police chief, fire chief and department of public works director should be required to live in Provincetown. The requirements are part of the town charter.

The town is searching for a town manager and the last finalist candidate declined the job offering, citing the high cost of housing as a factor. It was also pointed out that after half of the town’s current employees live in Truro, so allowing Truro residency would allow flexibility to appoint from within.

Selectman Vice Chairman Erik Yingling said, he agreed that the “symbolism” of having a town manager not live in town was “terrible,” but he said, “Provincetown and Truro are very interrelated. We want to attract the best and the brightest. We’re asking for a little latitude.”

But in a split vote declared a majority by the moderator, Town Meeting voters rejected the charter change and the town manager will continue to be required to live in town. That’s the second rejection for that charter change. Last year, Town Meeting rejected an open residency requirement that would have allowed the town manager to live anywhere. This year’s question narrowed the residency to Provincetown or neighboring Truro.

In taking up whether the other three town leaders should have to live in town, Town Meeting decided to split the question and decide each separately. After much debate, they decided the fire chief should be required to live in town but the police chief and DPW director could live in neighboring Truro.

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy